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Showing posts from April, 2010

More troops to the streets as violence continues unabated

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Troops stand watch at the dedication of a new church
in a poor community in El Salvador.
The headlines of the past ten days provoke feelings of insecurity for everyone in El Salvador. As just some examples:
Three local school teachers were murdered in the town of San Juan Opico. A Mexican official who is part of Interpol was attacked in broad daylight in San Salvador by gunmen. The attack left the official wounded and his wife dead. Four members of a family were massacred by suspects using an AK-47 assault rifle.There have also been riots in the prisons over the past week, with three prisoners killed and authorities not in control.

The presence of troops in the streets has produced no reduction in the level of homicides or extortions afflicting Salvadorans. With 1063 murders in the first three months of the year, the country averages 12 homicides a day.

The Funes administration has been impotent to reverse the tide of violence in the country. Searching for a step to make it look like h…

El Salvador's slums

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Last week the United Nations Development Program office in El Salvador issued a several hundred page report on the urban slums of El Salvador. It is called the Map of Urban Poverty and Social Exclusion in El Salvador and consists of a narrative volume and a volume which maps the locations of "precarious" living conditions throughout the country.

The study focuses on the poorest areas in the urban parts of El Salvador which the report labels Precarious Urban Settlements. (acronym "AUP" for its initials in Spanish). The data in the report is drawn from the 2007 census in El Salvador. It is hoped that the detailed review of the residential living patterns of some of El Salvador's most marginalized citizens will be a tool for government planninng and intervention.

The results of the report were highlighted in an article in ContraPunto, loosely translated here:
The Map identifies 2508 AUPs in El Salvador where more than two million Salvadorans are living. More than …

El Salvador's volcanic landscape

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With volcanoes in the news lately, a look at some of El Salvador's volcanoes seems timely. The photo above was taken by a NASA astronaut and provides a stunning relief picture of the San Miguel volcano and other volcanoes near Usulutan. The website Fire Earth has a description of the volcanoes and their history:

Usulután: Formed during Holocene (an ongoing geological epoch that began about 12,000 years ago). El Tigre formed during the Pleistocene Epoch (2.588 million to about 12,000 years ago), probably the oldest of member of the family captured in this astronaut photograph. The summit crater of El Tigre has eroded. Chinameca Volcano (also known as El Pacayal) has a two-kilometer-wide caldera formed after a powerful eruption caused its dome to collapse. San Miguel (also known as Chaparrastique), the youngest member of the family, is situated about 15 km southwest of the city of San Miguel, where it takes its name from. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in el…

Vacation Reading

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I'm back from vacation (one that was extended by a volcano in Iceland) and it's time to get back to regular blogging about El Salvador. While I was gone, I hope you had a chance to check out the stories at Linda's El Salvador Blog.

I took a couple of works of fiction along with me on vacation. The first was Do They Know I'm Running? by David Corbett. The book is a crime thriller which takes as its setting the dangerous immigrants pathways between El Salvador and the Latino communities of California. Like Corbett's other book, Blood of Paradise, his new novel steeps itself in the dark underbelly of El Salvador, creating a a page-turning story with many themes you will occasionally see in this blog. Gangs, violence, the Iraq war and a failed immigration policy fill the pages, along with a dose of love and the bonds of family. [Full disclosure -- David is a reader of this blog, and was nice enough to send me a copy of Do They Know I'm Running when it was …

Reading while I'm on vacation

I'll be taking a break from blogging for the next two weeks while I'm on a vacation with limited internet access. In the interim, you may want to check out Linda's El Salvador Blog. It's a new blog which recently appeared with essays about experiencing El Salvador. It's definitely worth a read.

The reality of water in El Salvador

Access to potable water is a never-ending struggle in the rural areas of El Salvador. Julia Baumgartner describes in her blog the struggle of one community, Comunidad Rutilio Grande, with a well which is running dry:
For many of us, the thought of being without water is unimaginable. We brush our teeth, wash our dishes and clothes, shower, and drink from the faucet without thinking much about it. It has always been that way and as far as we know, it will continue to flow for us. Here in the community of Rutilio Grande, the water stopped running last week, a scary reality during the end of the dry season when the rivers dry up after 6 months of no rain.

Up until last year, this small community had been in charge of the water system, fixing the pump when it broke down. With $0 coming into the community for such instances, they decided to turn it over to the town government who has a few extra dollars to pay for such projects. In the past, they had gone weeks without water when the pump…